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Flight advice for heart patients

New guidelines finally dispel confusion over whether members of the public can fly safely with heart conditions.

The British Cardiac Society (BCS) says restrictions are only necessary for people with certain conditions.

Advice has been issued in response to a 2007 Lords Science and Technology Committee report, which called for clearer guidelines for doctors, airlines and passengers.

Fears have been raised in the past over whether people with heart conditions should fly, particularly those who may be affected by reduced levels of oxygen in the plane's cabin.

But the new guidance says there is "no significant threat" to heart patients from air travel - and certainly not for medium or short-haul flights.

Even those with the most severe conditions can still fly if they follow the guidelines closely.

Some patients are advised they may need in-flight oxygen, while those at high risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are told to take extra precautions, including wearing pressure stockings and taking a blood thinner other than aspirin.

Writing in the journal Heart, experts said: "Following this review of evidence and after due consideration, it is clear that there are few cardiovascular conditions that warrant the denial of fitness to fly as a passenger.

"Given the right aircraft, on-board equipment and appropriately qualified and experienced escort personnel, aircraft can act as flying intensive care units and carry extremely ill passengers."

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British Cardiac Society